Microsoft reveals new search platform Bing

Microsoft has unveiled Bing as its much anticipated new search platform, as the company reiterates its ambition to overtake Google and become the leading search engine.

Bing, which launches officially on 3 June and replaces Microsoft’s three-year-old Live Search offering, is designed to be a semantic-based search engine, which understands the context of a query being posed to provide the most relevant results available.

The company says it aims to solve the problem that sees 50% of search queries “failing to meet consumers needs”, according to Microsoft Advertising UK commercial director Chris Ward.

Changes to Live Search include dynamic navigation and suggestion guides down the left-hand-side of the page next to results – known as ‘gallery’ listings.

For example, a search for ‘Stephen Hawking’ would see suggestions for Biography, Images, and Books, while in contrast a search for ‘Rolling Stones’ would serve suggestions including Lyrics, Music and Tickets.

Other changes include video results which can be played within the search listings, while the search engine also integrates Ciao, the shopping comparison service Microsoft bought last year, for the first time.

However, the company said it still had no immediate plans to launch cashback in the UK.

Speaking to new media age, Chris Ward, Microsoft Advertising UK commercial director, said the company was confident of challenging Google’s dominance. According to Hitwise Microsoft has 3.51% of the UK search share compared to Google’s 86.94%.

“We have huge ambition in the search space,” he said. “Last year (Microsoft CEO) Steve Ballmer said he wanted us to be a strong second in the next two to three years, and then we can think about taking on Google and being first. I think that’s a realistic ambition.”

Paul Stoddard, Microsoft UK Search Lead, said “Google’s done a great job, but the web has moved on.

“We all – us, Google and the others – know search will develop. Google certainly doesn’t feel like it’s won search; it might have market dominance but it’s not a complete victory.”

But despite today’s announcement of next week’s full launch in North America, Bing is still only in beta in the UK. The company says this is as it fine-tunes UK results, with the help of its European Search Technology Centre.

Advertising for the new platform is therefore being delayed in the UK until the full-roll out, which will “be in a few months,” according to Stoddard.

Prior to that, Microsoft will be integrating Bing within its other online properties, encouraging increased use across the network.

“Getting online consumers to seamlessly move around and interact and use all of our services is something we’ve been working very hard on,” says Ward. “Our research shows that about 65% of the internet population engages with our content and services every month. So we have significant penetration already.”

For more on this story, read next week’s new media age as well as further stories on over the next few days.

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